Engineering Design Process: On the Moon Educator Guide: On Target
Black and white drawing of a satellite approaching a lunar crater

Featured Lesson(s)

On the Moon Educator Guide: On Target




Essential Question

How can you use the engineering design process to construct a probe to hit a specific target?


To see if there’s water on the moon, NASA sent the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, hurtling into a crater near the moon’s south pole. The collision sent up a plume of dust and gas over 10 kilometers (6 miles) high. Scientists studied this plume to see if there were any signs of water in it. Just as the success of LCROSS depended on hitting the crater exactly, success in this design challenge activity depends on being able to hit a target accurately and consistently.


In this challenge, students follow the engineering design process to modify a cup to carry a marble down a zip line; test their cup by sliding it down the zip line; release the marble; try to hit a target on the floor; and use test results to improve their system.


Additional Resources

  Classroom Resources:


  • Videos for Students:
    • Introduce the Challenge: This segment shows a teacher introducing the challenge to a classroom of students.
    • Design and Build: This segment shows students engaged in the design and building phases of the challenge.
    • Testing and Redesign: This segment shows students involved in testing their designs, making modifications and retesting. It reveals some of the questions and problems students encounter during testing and redesign.
    • Analysis and Wrap-Up: This segment shows the teacher and students engaged in the inquiry process at the conclusion of the challenge. In this process, they analyze their results and consider possible next steps to improve on their designs.


  Related NASA Now Events:

  Connection to NASA:

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Lesson Information

Subject(s) Covered:


Topic(s) Covered:

 Design process

Activity Type:

 Engineering Design Challenge

Grade Level:


Instructional Objective:

 Students follow the engineering design process • To modify a cup to carry a marble down a zip line. • To test their cup by sliding it down the zip line, releasing the marble, and trying to hit a target on the floor. • To use test results to improve their system.

Time to Complete the Activity:

 One to two 45 minute classes

  Materials Needed:

  • Index cards
  • Marble
  • Masking tape
  • Paper clip
  • Scissors
  • Fishing line and a target on paper

   National Content Standards:



  • 21st Century Outcome: Learning and Innovation Skills
  • 21st Century Element: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • 21st Century Skill: Solve Problems


  • Math Content Area: Algebra
  • Math Standard: Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships


  • Technology Content Area: The Nature of Technology
  • Technology Standard: Students will develop an understanding of the relationships among technologies and the connections between technology and other fields of study.